Well, new season is under way and lord knows how I’m gonna keep this thing pithy with so many shows,
Before we jump in, a few quick reminders about these posts to accompany the new season. Firstly, these posts will be spoilerific, but I’ll make sure the screen-shots aren’t, so it should be easy enough to scroll past any shows you don’t want to have spoiled. Secondly, I’ll be using non-weeaboo titles wherever there’s a sensible translation. Thirdly, since it’s a bunch of first episodes, this is gonna be more impressions than analysis or discussion. let’s get started.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 26
Well… that was, ummm, certainly something. Exactly what you’d expect from a Jojo’s finale. Did not disappoint, 4 stars. Great, let’s move on.
Little Busters 26
Getting the finales over with first before jumping into the new shows. Again, I’ve nitpicked enough, so complaint-wise I’ll just say this: having all the characters tell Riki how cool he is was incredibly inorganic and cheesy, the fact that they were all girls just drew even more attention to this absurdity. Ok, that out of the way, you know what, I enjoyed this episode. It promises us a shit-gets-real sequel and some of the dialogue between Riki and Kyousuke was genuinely charming and showed a little self-awareness about what a halcyon life they’ve all really been living. I do think it would have been more interesting had Kyousuke pass the torch earlier in the series and the various arcs were tied in with Riki’s growth as a leader. Clannad always kept Tomoya’s growth at the centre of things and I think that’s why it felt a lot stronger to me.
[Insert panty shot here]
Ok, let’s get the worst of the new season out of the way first. Vuc from Altair & Vega posted something particularly apt so I’ll quote him here: “Photokano, despite its premise, has only one technical term in it’s première: Single Lens Reflex. It gives a bit of lip service to the idea of capturing beauty in photos, but it’s thin justification for what is ultimately a show about voyeuristic objectification of teenage girls. I’m disappointed so far.” Well said. Dropped.
Red Data Girl 1
You know, Flowers of Evil spent even more time doing set-up shots of the town and whatnot but managed to not be horribly boring. I think it’s because in Flowers of Evil every shot has a really clear thematic purpose, it’s all tying into the overarching point. Red Data Girl, on the other hand, spends heaps of time setting the scene, but that’s all it’s doing, so it comes across as really boring. There’s nothing to engage with, just lost of pretty shots or forests and schools n’ shit. It’s also got the usual PA Works problem of really bad, contrived melodramatic conflict. The guy is being a douche, probably for good reason, but we don’t know shit right now so he mostly just comes across as a douche. Our heroine has all the force of will of a wet towel, and that’s real interesting to watch. She has some mystical power which we’re teased with all episode but I just don’t care about her or anything in Red Data Girl’s world so it’s not thrilling or suspenseful in the slightest.
I don’t even much like the animation. Everything PA Works does feels…. well, sexless. Completely neutered, lacking edge, or rawness, polished to the point of being completely lacking any noticeable features. I’ll give RDG one more ep, but it’s probably gonna get dropped.
Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince 1
This one was a surprise success for me. The bombastic energy really carried the otherwise generic and nonsensical plot. It just doesn’t stop moving and that makes it hard to find boring, at least. Looks really nice too, and the battles were reasonably fun, speaking as someone with no real knowledge or care for mecha or action shows in general. That said, no idea how they could possible take this anywhere interesting. I’ll keep watching till the charm wears off, at which point it’ll probably be dropped. Maybe it can last its full run, that’d be nice.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! 1
This fish-out-of-water story seems to be getting close to a universally good wrap around the aniblogospher. It’s funny, apparently. I personally didn’t laugh, or even snicker, really. Doesn’t do anything especially wrong, but also doesn’t do anything especially right. Competent but bland seems like the perfect description for it at the moment. I’ll keep watching till it devolves into complete genericness.
Oreimo S2 1Welp, same old Oreimo, it seems. The first ep went approximately nowhere, and I honestly don’t know why I find Oreimo as watchable as I do. Oh, that’s right, Nakamura Yuichi’s dulcet tones. I’ll stick with this unless it gets offensively bad or just plain offensive at some point.
Muromi-san on the Shore 1
Like Majestic Prince, it’s trying to carry itself on its abundance of energy, but this doesn’t hide the fact that it’s basically not funny. The awkward starfish was amusing, but the rest was completely generic romcom gags with a mermaid twist. It’s not offensively bad, and at half the ordinary episode length, with aforementioned energy, it’s not too hard to get through (compliment of the year, I know), so I’ll give it a few more eps to find it’s comedic stride.
Attack on Titan/The Eotena Onslaught 1
Firstly, if you’re wondering about the whole “The Eotena Onslaught” thing when the official translation is “Attack on Titan”, that’s because Commiesubs makes an extremely convincing argument for why “The Eotena Onslaught” is a much, much better translation. Seriously suggest following that link and reading in full. It’s fascinating, hilarious and informative all in one!
Being the big, hyped, action show of the season, I think there’ve been a few SAO comparisons going around. I think being big, hyped, action shows is honestly as far as that comparison goes, though. For one, The Eotena Onslaught actually has some balls. Sure, that first ep was predictable and pretty damn exploitative, but at least it was evocative. I genuinely flinched at that part towards the end of the episode (you know the one). If I were to make a comparison, I’d say it’s giving me some quite strong Gantz vibes. Grimdark fantasy featuring cruel, incomprehensible monstrosities with a strong focus on willpower and the drive to survive. To be honest, Gantz is a guilty pleasure of mine, so I’m more than fine with this.
I tend to find grimdark fantasy a lot more entertaining than straight fantasy. It’s generally no more original, but it’s certainly more evocative. Colour me entertained.
My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected 1
You always know it’s a light novel adaptation when the title is also the synopsis. Y’know, you can chuck some cynicism in there if you like, but it doesn’t make the set-up for your dull romantic comedy any less generic. Some of the Male lead’s lines occasionally bordered on witty, so that kept it kind of watchable. The main two characters have very little chemistry to make it interesting, which is sin no. 1 in any romance. The occasional wit gives me a little hope for it. Like RDG, I’ll give it one more ep, but it’ll probably get dropped.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet 1
I think Psycho-Pass proved that the Urobuchi Production IG combo is one to look out for. That said this first ep left me markedly less excited about the show than Psycho-Pass’s first ep did. That said, it’s probably no fault of the show’s. I happen to really like dystopian, cyberpunk, moralistic stories, and I just happen to have no particular care for Mecha, military, or fish-out-of-water stories.
For what it’s worth, Gargantia does a sterling job of show, don’t tell. Small bits of dialogue and information allow for large amounts of reasonable speculation on the world and society our protagonist was born into. The extent of the militarisation is manifest in everything we see but it’s never outright explained to us, we just pick it up through all the clues we’re given, visual and otherwise. Praise aside for a moment, not a fan of the art style at all. I know Aku no Hana’s style has pissed people off, but I honestly find Gargantia’s ultra shiny people multiple times more grating. Is everybody really sweaty or something? It seems to be a popular trend in modern anime, but I’ve never seen Production IG do it before, I just assumed they had better aesthetic taste. Apart from that I guess it looks pretty nice, environment wise and whatnot. The combat was pretty smooth, but as I said, not really my thing.
As I said, this isn’t really my kind of story, but the first episode was promising enough for me to keep watching. I highly doubt this show is gonna misstep considering the people behind it. Definitely one to watch out for.
The Flowers of Evil 1
Honestly, I could write a whole post on that first episode alone. This has been extremely contentious and I’d like to throw my own two cents in.
For those who don’t know, The Flowers of Evil (that’s Aku no Hana in weeaboo) has been getting masses of undeserved hate for i) using rotoscoping, which looks ugly, and ii) taking pretty big liberties with the source material. As a fan of the original manga, I’d like to address ii) here first. I really, really don’t get people who want adaptations to be carbon copies of the original. Let’s put it this way: Say an anime adaptation is extremely faithful, then you have a manga you like, and you have the same thing in animated form. Alright, now let’s say an adaptation group takes their adaptation in their own direction, or otherwise presents something that is their own take on the original. If what the present is bad, well, you still have the original story, no-one can take that away from you. However, if the adaptation is good in its own way, even better, now you have two, significantly different, but both great presentations of a similar core idea to enjoy. The Flowers of Evil anime looks and feels very different from the original, but the core themes, the core ideas, the core flavour is still there, and if anything they’re currently being expressed even better than the original by the directorial choices of Nagahama Hiroshi.
Now, about point i). Yes, it looks really ugly, but that’s the fucking point. The Flowers of Evil is a gritty, in-your-face story, it’s trying to disgust you right now, it’s trying to make the world look simultaneously extremely well-realised and extremely shitty. If you ask me, it’s doing an extraordinary job of that right now. It’s striking and pretty damn incredible to look at, in my opinion, I was completely entranced by it. What’s more there was an awful lot going on there thematically. To quote a particularly apt commenter over at The Cart Driver:
“The cognitive dissonance inherent in lusting after an idolized object of affection, the fragile and abstract nature of power structures in school, how the admirable qualities of love are warped when filtered through obsession, and how art is often used to romanticize unhealthy behaviour.”
I really thought that was an extraordinarily good first episode. Easily best of season so far for me, I haven’t been this excited about a series since Penguindrum.